Lessons from the Road…Gratitude and Perspective Are Key During a Pandemic

Currently, many Americans are working from home during the pandemic in order to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19.  This is a big change for many people.  Social distancing can feel like social isolation to people who are used to being surrounded by other people all day.

I see the Facebook posts of friends sharing how the pandemic and social distancing have triggered their depression and anxiety.  Others talk about the loneliness or disconnection they feel due to social distancing.  My running friends and I are missing each other due to our group runs, social events and races being cancelled or postponed.  My other friends are missing our restaurant outings.  There’s something about work, hobbies, sports and food that connects us.  Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, most people need the human touch and/or human interaction.  It fuels our souls…or in the case of my running friends, it fuels our soles.  Social distancing has temporarily stifled our sense of community and connection with others.

During the pandemic, my solo runs and walks have been crucial to my health and well-being.  I know I’m not alone in that feeling.  I live in a community that isn’t known for its friendliness.  It’s known for being the opposite.  But what I’ve experienced since people started staying home most of the time is that when we get out and get some fresh air, we feel relieved, relaxed and revitalized.  We also feel grateful.  I know this because the same people that usually ignored my friendly greetings and looked away from me in the past, are now responding back with a friendly greeting and a smile.  Here are two examples of such exchanges:

Me: It’s so great to get out of the house for a bit and enjoy the spring sounds and smells, isn’t it?

Them: Yes, it is!

Me: It’s beautiful out today, isn’t it?

Them: Sure is!

To put this in perspective it was 35 degrees and cloudy.  But it was truly beautiful out because we were all getting a change of scenery from the walls of our homes.  We were all breathing fresh air and doing it comfortably…something to be grateful for any time, but especially these days.  And my guess is that these people were seeing what a gift it is to be able to enjoy nature and see other people when we’ve been isolated in our homes for days or weeks.

If you follow my blog, you know Lessons from the Road is about things I learn when I’m out running and how they relate to business.

So, what does this story have to do with business?

During the pandemic business as usual is more like business unusual.  Many people are working from home and alone.  Medical providers are being taxed to their limits.  Many businesses such as restaurants are closed or only doing take-out and delivery and taking a huge financial hit.  Some businesses may not survive.  Many gyms are closed.  Places where we go to connect for business or social purposes are closed and it feels strange…and at times a bit scary because we don’t know how long this is going to be the temporary “new normal.”

With that said, running during the pandemic has reminded me that socializing doesn’t have to be face to face, close contact or at a group or public event.  You can reconnect with friends and business associates by picking up the phone or using a video app such as Skype to feel more connected and less isolated. You can connect with neighbors and humanity by going outside to get some fresh air and exercise, even if you stay six feet or more away from them as you run or walk by.  In fact, you may even find that social isolation has made some people more friendly as they long for human interaction.  My hope is that trend continues when the pandemic is over and businesses reopen.

Being home bound may be driving people crazy.  Some will get outside and get some fresh air for that reason alone…something they might not have done without social distancing becoming part of their lives.  Exercise is good for your mind, body and spirit.  It’s also good for business because healthy employees are more productive and have less absenteeism.  As a health coach, I hope the feeling they get from exercise will be contagious in a good way, and it will become a new habit for them.

In business, we sometimes take our coworkers and our relationships with them for granted.  In life, it can be the same way.  I think the pandemic has opened our eyes to the importance of others and the positive impact they have in our lives and our workplaces. It’s given us a new or renewed perspective on what’s truly important and what helps us thrive.

So, when you are no longer home bound, try to remember what you’ve learned while being socially isolated and take those lessons back to the workplace with you and to your other personal, social relationships. Being grateful is a good thing in work, running and life!



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